Mounchelet (Veal and Onion Pottage)

MOUNCHELET.
Take Veel oþer Moton and smite it to gobettes seeþ it in gode broth. cast þerto erbes yhewe [2] gode wyne. and a quantite of Oynouns mynced. Powdour fort and Safroun. and alye it with ayren and verious. but lat not seeþ after.
The Forme of Cury 18.

MOUNCHELET.
Take veal or mutton and smite it into gobbets. Seethe it in good broth. Cast thereto chopped herbs and good wine, and a quantity of minced onions, powder fort and saffron, and thicken it with eggs and verjuice. But let it not seethe after.

The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.

Veal was eaten most commonly in the spring, as part of the end of Lent (Wilson, 2003, 88); households with the means and inclination would slaughter at least one male calf in the spring to obtain rennet for cheese (Wilson, 2003, 151). Mutton could be obtained at any time of the year, but is quite hard to find today. If using veal, remember it is quite lean and in general will not need much cooking.

Ingredients

500g veal 250mL red wine
500mL beef stock 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 onions (around 400g) 1/4 tsp ground cloves
5 tbs minced herbs 1/4 tsp ground saffron
2 eggs 60mL verjuice

Method

  1. Shred the veal, and finely slice the onions.
  2. Put the stock, wine, meat, onions, herbs and spices into a pot and bring to the boil. Simmer until the meat is cooked.
  3. Whisk together the eggs and the verjuice. Add a ladleful of the pottage liquid to the egg mixture, and whisk in.
  4. Remove the pottage from the heat, and add the egg mixture. Stir well to completely incorporate the egg and cook it.

Notes

  • “Powder fort” is a spice mix that translates to “strong powder.” Hieatt and Butler suggest pepper and cloves (Hieatt and Butler, 1985, 208-209).
  • I used a mix of sage, oregano and thyme in the pottage. These are all herbs that can stand being cooked without losing their flavour, go well with beef and were available in period.
  • Adding a ladleful of stock to the eggs before adding the eggs to the pottage brings the temperature of the eggs up and ensures they won’t curdle when added to the pottage.
  • As the recipe specifies, DO NOT LET THE POTTAGE REBOIL AFTER THE EGGS ARE ADDED. This would cause the eggs to curdle and split rather than incorporating into the pottage broth.
  • If you are lucky enough to find mutton, it will probably need to be cooked a lot longer to make the meat tender, as mutton comes from older sheep.

Mounchelet - C14 English veal stew.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.
Wilson, C. Anne (2003). Food and Drink in Britain.

Aquapatys (Braised Garlic)

AQUAPATYS.
Pill garlec and cast it in a pot with water and oile. and seeþ it, do þerto safroun, salt, and powdour fort and dresse it forth hool.
The Forme of Cury 77.

AQUAPATYS.
Peel garlic and cast it in a pot with water and oil and seethe it, do thereto saffron, salt, and powder forte and dress it forth whole.

The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.

Garlic as a side dish! Foods such as garlic were regarded primarily as peasant food, however the presence of oil (presumably olive oil), saffron and the spice mixture powder fort makes this super luxurious garlic. You might be concerned about eating whole garlic, however boiling the garlic removes the enzymes that give it the sharp taste and cause the garlic breath. It becomes very soft and quite sweet.

Ingredients

2 whole garlic bulbs 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup water 1/4 tsp ground cloves
15 mL olive oil 1/4 tsp ground saffron
1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Break apart the garlic bulbs into individual cloves, and peel them.
  2. Put the garlic, oil and water into a pot, and bring to the boil. Cook the garlic until it is soft, around 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the garlic, arrange on a platter and sprinkle over the spices and salt.
  4. Serve warm.

Notes

  • “Powder fort” is a spice mix that translates to “strong powder.” Hieatt and Butler suggest pepper and cloves (Hieatt and Butler, 1985, 208-209).
  • To make this more luxurious, you could use chicken stock to cook the garlic. I suspect the original recipe specifies water to make this recipe suitable for fish days.

Aquapatys - C14 recipe of garlic as a vegetable

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.

Iowtes of Almaund Mylke (Green Soup)

IOWTES OF ALMAUND MYLKE.
Take erbes, boile hem, hewe hem and grynde hem smale. Take almaundus iblaunchede; grynde hem and drawe hem vp with water. Set hem on the fire and seeþ the iowtes with the mylke. and cast þeron sugur & salt, & serue it forth.
The Forme of Cury 89.

Jowtes with Almond Milk.
Take herbs, boil them, hew them and grind them small. Take blanched almonds, grinde them and drawe them up with water. Set them on the fire and seethe the jowtes with the almond milk, and cast thereon sugar and salt, and serve it forth.

The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.

A soup like this would have been served on less formal occasions, however the almond milk gives it a touch of luxury and expense that would have put it beyond the reach of most people.

Ingredients

approx. 1kg mixed green leaves and herbs(see notes) 2 tbs sugar
300g blanched almonds 1 tsp salt
1L water

Method

  1. To make the almond milk, soak the almonds in the water for several hours.
  2. Put the almonds and water in a blender, and blend on high speed until the almonds have been reduced to meal and the water is cloudy.
  3. Strain the almond milk. You can use the left over almond meal in a pottage, or as a filling in a tart. However it will not have much flavour. Set the almond milk aside.
  4. Remove any thick or tough stalks from the leaves. Put the leaves into a pan with a small amount of water. Steam the leaves until they have wilted.
  5. Chop the leaves roughly, then add to a blender with the almond milk. Blend until the leaves and herbs are completely incorporated into the almond milk
  6. Add the blended soup to a pan and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and salt, and stir well to mix.
  7. Can be served hot, or at room temperature.

Notes

  • “Jowtes” is another word for pot herb, or herb that gets added to the pot to be eaten cooked. (Hieatt and Butler, 1985, 196).
  • Because I have a garden with many medieval plants that aren’t commonly available, I was able to use a large variety of different leaves in my green soup. I was able to use chard, sorrel, wood avens, horseradish leaf, borage, wild celery, winter savoury and wild thyme, as well as more common herbs parsley, chervil and sage. If you don’t have access to a wide range of interesting medieval leaves, I would suggest using silverbeet, beetroot leaves or turnip leaves. Or possibly even kale, but I really don’t know why you’d bother.
    Chard Sorrel Avens
    Chard (Beta vulgaris) Sorrel (Rumex acetose) Wood Avens (Geum urbanum)
    Horseradish leaf Borage Wild celery
    Horseradish leaf (Armoracia rusticana) Borage(Borago officinalis) Wild celery(Apium graveolens)
    Winter savoury Wild Thyme  
    Winter savoury(Satureja montana) Wild Thyme(Thymus serpyllum)  
  • You may think it odd to use cold water rather than hot to make the almond milk. The resulting milk has a far stronger flavour, as the flavour is not evaporated out as steam, which is what happens when you use hot water. It is far better to make your own almond milk rather than bought almond milk, as the flavour is far better. However use the blanched almonds rather than almond meal, as almond meal loses much of the essential oil when it is ground and stored, and that’s where the flavour comes from.
  • In period a mortar and pestle would have been used to reduce the jowtes to a paste so they mix with the almond milk better; this is probably why they were boiled first.

Jowtes
The soup here has a slight red tinge from the chard. Using different leaves produces different coloured soup.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
(add to end of Book Depository link – )
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.

Tarte of Strawberries (Strawberry Tart)

To make a tarte of Strawberries.
Wash your strawberries, and put them into your Tarte, and season them with suger, cynamon and Ginger, and put in a little red wine into them.
Thomas Dawson, The Good Huswife’s Jewell, 1596.

To make a Tart of Strawberries.
Wash your strawberries, and put them into your tart, and season them with sugar, cinnamon and ginger, and put in a little red wine into them.

THE GERMAN RECIPE
89 Ain erbertorten zú machen
Mach das bedellin vnnd laß erstarcken jn der tortenpfanen/darnach nim die erber vnnd legs daraúf vmber aúfs allernechst zúsamen, darnach zúckeres woll aúfs allerbast, laß darnach ain klain weil bachen, geúß ain malúasier daraúf vmber vnnd laß ain weil bachen, so jst er gemacht.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabrina Welserin, c1553.

89 To make a strawberry tart
Make a pastry shell and let it become firm in the tart pan. Afterwards take strawberries and lay them around on top as close together as possible, after that sweeten them especially well. Next let it bake a short while, pour Malavosia over it and let it bake a while, then it is ready.

The text of the original German recipe can be found here.

The translation of the German recipe is by Valoise Armstrong, and can be found here.

I tried cooking the Dawson recipe several times. The first time, I pureed the strawberries, sugar, wine and spices (despite there being no instructions to do so). And I used far too much wine, so the puree was extremely wet. This caused the pastry shell to completely collapse because it was far too wet. The next two times I used less wine each time, but the tart still collapsed when the pastry got soggy.

And then I found Sabrina Welserin’s recipe. I found it interesting that she specified to bake the strawberries and sugar for a time, then add the wine and continue baking. And trying this, it worked. Even though the pastry still absorbed some liquid from the strawberries and sugar, adding the wine after they had baked a while ensured the strawberries absorbed the wine, not the pastry.

I would recommend eating the strawberries from the pastry shell with a spoon, then eating the pastry separately. It’s still very tasty.

Ingredients

1 quantity shortcrust pastry 50g sugar Optional: 1/2 tsp cinnamon
300g strawberries 30mL madeira wine (see notes) Optional: 1 tsp ginger

Method

  1. Roll out the pastry to approx. 4mm thickness and line a greased pie plate with it.
  2. Prick the bottom of the tart shell. Line the tart shell with baking paper and fill with weights. Blind bake the tart shell for approx. 12 minutes in a 200°C oven. Remove the paper and weights when finished.
  3. Return the tart shell to the oven and bake for a further 8 minutes, to firm the base. If necessary, line the rim of the pie with foil to stop it browning too much.
  4. Wash the strawberries and remove the stalks. Cut any large strawberries into smaller pieces.
  5. Arrange the strawberries in the pastry shell, and sprinkle with sugar and spices, if using.
  6. Bake the tart in a 160°C oven for around 10 minutes, until the strawberries have softened.
  7. Drizzle the wine over the strawberries, and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Leave the tart to cool, and serve cold. You will probably want to spoon the strawberries out of the tart, and eat the pastry separately.

Notes

  • Modern strawberries are typically hybrids of the indigenous European variety, Fragaria vesca. These would have been used in the medieval and early modern period. They are extremely sweet, but tiny. If you want to use them, you will probably have to grow them yourself. You will need more than one plant to provide the fruit to make a single tart. The plants and seeds are frequently sold was “wild strawberries” or “alpine strawberries.” You may also be able to forage them in Britain and Europe.
  • Malavosia is a sweet, fortified wine, originally from the Greek island of the same name. A similar wine is produced on the island of Madeira, which is why I have substituted it.

Strawberry Tart
The tart is garnished with dianthus flowers, also known in Elizabethan England as gillyflowers. They are edible (rather tasteless, but they are pretty!).

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Black, Maggie (1996). The Good Housewife’s Jewel
Brears, Peter (2011) All the King’s Cooks

Tarte of Ryce (Rice Tart)

To make a Tarte of Ryce.
Boyle your Rice, and put in the yolkes of two or three Egges into the Rice, and when it is boyled, put it into a dish, and season it with Suger, Sinamon, and Ginger, and butter, and the iuyce of two or three Orenges, and set it on the fire againe.
Thomas Dawson, The Good Huswife’s Jewell, 1596.

To make a Tart of Rice.
Boil your Rice, and add in the yolks of two or three eggs into the rice, and when it is boiled, put it into a dish, and season it with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, butter, and the juice of two or three oranges, and set it on the fire again.

 

Except for the eggs, all the ingredients in this dish were imported, so it would have been quite a status dish. Fortunately for us, these ingredients are cheap today, so this is an excellent feast dish, particularly as it is quite easy to make. Although the recipe is called a Tart of Rice, there is no mention of pastry aside from putting the flavoured rice into a dish; the recipe below puts it into a pastry case, and the rice mixture sets well as a tart filling. However, I have served the rice by itself as a side dish, and it was extremely well received (and quick to make!).

Ingredients

1 quantity shortcrust pastry 1 tsp ginger
200g rice ½ tsp cinnamon
3 egg yolks 2 tbs sugar
250mL orange juice 50g butter

Method

  1. Roll out the pastry to approx. 4mm thickness and line a greased pie plate with it.
  2. Prick the bottom of the tart shell. Line the tart shell with baking paper and fill with weights. Blind bake the tart shell for approx. 12 minutes in a 200° oven. Remove the paper and weights when finished.
  3. Return the tart shell to the oven and bake for a further 6 minutes, to firm the base. If necessary, line the rim of the pie with foil to stop it browning too much.
  4. Rinse the rice in cold, running water until the water draining from the rice is clear.
  5. Cook the rice in lightly salted water until it is still slightly firm in the centre.
  6. Drain the rice, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine.
  7. Spoon the rice mix into the tart shell and press down lightly.
  8. Bake the tart in a 180° oven for about 20 minutes, or until the rice filling feels dry and firm.
  9. Serve hot or cold.

Notes

  • Although this is a sweet dish, it would have been served alongside savoury dishes, most likely in the second course.
  • Rinsing the rice before cooking it removes excess starch from the rice, which means it doesn’t go gluggy when cooked. If you are worried about wasting water, hold the strainer over a bucket to catch the rinsing water – gardens love it.

 

Tarte of Ryce

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Black, Maggie (1996). The Good Housewife’s Jewel

Chicken Buns

97 Wiltú hennenkiechlen bachenn/
So nim das hennenflesch vnnd lasß vor sieden, darnach hacks klain vnnd thú ain geriben semel daran vnnd air daran,
bis dú mainst/ das es ain feins dicks taiglin seý, darnach mach feine rúnde kigellen/ vnnd lasß bachen gar lancksam
vnnd saltzs.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabrina Welserin’

97 If you would make chicken buns
Then take the meat from hens and let it cook beforehand, after that chop it small and put grated a Semmel thereon and eggs thereon, until you think that it is a good thick dough. Afterwards make fine round little balls and let them fry very slowly and roast them.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

The translation is by Valoise Armstrong, and can be found here.

I know very little about German cooking. However, this is one of a number of recipes in Sabrina Welserin’s cookbook for bachen, which has been translated as “buns.” They appear to be balls which can be fried or roasted, so buns is as good a translation as any; a bachen containing meat, like this one, could be called a meatball.

We decided to add parmesan cheese, as recipe 193 combines cooked chicken, Parmesan cheese and spices in a dough wrapper, to be boiled (rather like ravioli or tortellini). They are equally delicious with or without the cheese.

Ingredients

500g cooked chicken meat 2 eggs
100g bread crumbs Salt
Optional: 125g grated Parmesan cheese  

Method

  1. Shred the chicken finely with a fork or a food processor.
  2. in a bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. This is easiest done with the hands.
  3. Form the mix into small balls about the size of walnuts, and flatten slightly.
  4. Heat some oil in a frypan, then fry the balls until the outsides are golden.
  5. If you have access to an open fire, thread the chicken balls onto a skewer and expose them to the flame and smoke briefly, so they take on the smoky flavour from the flames. I assume this is why they were to be roasted as well as fried.
  6. They can be served hot or cold.

Notes

  • Semmel is a bread roll baked from a fine wheat flour. You can either grate the roll on a fine grater to produce breadcrumbs, or use a food processor. It is far better to make your own breadcrumbs rather than use bought ones – the texture of freshly made crumbs is far better.

Buns of Chicken

Hulwa a’Jamiyya (Honey and Poppyseed treats)

Hulwa a’Jamiyya: Take half a pound [ratl] of flour and fry it in four ounces of sesame oil. Take a pound [ratl] of honey and put it on the fire, and if the honey is strong, add water. When it boils, throw it hot on the toasted [flour] and stir it and beat it white. [Take] poppy seeds and pistachios for it and throw them on it. Let the honey be covered with a dirham of saffron. Stir it and put it up covered. Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada Chapter X (The Description of Familiar Foods, trans. Charles Perry). Features in Medieval Arab Cookery, ed. Maxime Rodinson.

When people think of halwa (also halva, halvas or hulva) today, they think of the yummy, slightly gritty sesame-based sweet with nuts. But this is only one type of halwa – halwa literally translates as “sweet,” and refers to a dense sweet based either on flour and honey or sugar syrup, or nut butters/pastes and syrup.

One of the great problems I’ve found with redacting historical recipes is the translation of measurements. For instance, a common measurement in these recipes is the ratl, which often gets translated to “pound.” However, a ratl is NOT the same as an imperial pound, which caused bad results until I found metric equivalents. Furthermore, the same term had different meanings at different times and places, and ratl is certainly indicative of this! If you are interested in checking weights and measures, this site is a great place to start. For reference’s sake, in this recipe I have used the C12 Egyptian measurements. This is why I stick to metric measurements when I write recipes. It’s less painful.

Ingredients

225 g flour 4 tbs poppy seeds
120 mL virgin sesame oil (see Notes) ½ cup pistachios
450g honey Generous pinch of saffron

Method

  1. Put the pistachios in a bowl of boiling water for about 20 minutes, then rub off the skins. Allow to dry.
  2. In a big, heavy based pan, heat the sesame oil over a low heat and then add the flour. Stir well so the flour is completely coated with the oil.  Keep stirring for around 10 minutes, until the flour has gone golden and smells toasted.  Be careful the flour doesn’t catch and burn.
  3. In another saucepan, heat the honey to the soft ball stage (112° – 116° C). Then remove it from the heat and skim off any scum.
  4. Steep the saffron threads in boiling water, then stir into the honey.
  5. Pour the honey into the toasted semolina, and fold in gently until well mixed and the mixture is pale.
  6. Add the poppy seeds and pistachios.
  7. Pour the mix into an oiled cake tin, and cover with cling film.
  8. Leave in the fridge for at least a day to allow the mix to set properly.
  9. When set, slice the mix with a knife dipped in warm water.

Notes

  • When you are dealing with sugar syrup in candy making, you’re transforming sugar from a solid to a liquid, and then back into a solid again, but in a more cohesive form.  You combine the sugar with water to dissolve it; but when sugar heats up, it keeps right on getting hotter (unlike water which reaches 100°C and doesn’t get hotter).  As the sugar transforms from solid to liquid, you are evaporating water out of the sugar syrup, and the amount of water evaporated will affect the final texture.  More liquid evaporated will result in a harder candy.
    As the sugar syrup reaches various temperature stages, it will start to behave in different ways, as described below:

    Temperature Description (Cold water method of testing) Stage name
    110° – 112° C The syrup drips from a spoon, forms thin threads in cold water Thread
    112° – 116° C The syrup easily forms a ball in cold water, but flattens once removed Soft Ball
    118° – 121° C The syrup is formed into a stable ball in cold water, but loses its round shape once pressed Medium Ball
    121° – 130° C The syrup holds its ball shape in cold water, but remains sticky Hard Ball
    132° – 143° C The syrup will form firm but pliable threads Soft Crack
    149° – 154° C The syrup will crack if you try to mold it Hard Crack
    160° – 176° C The sugar syrup will turn golden at this stage Caramel

    Prior to the invention of candy thermometers, candy making relied on spooning some of the syrup into cold water and watching how it behaved.  It’s known as the “cold water method” of checking the temperature, but the candy thermometer is much more precise.

    You can also treat honey as sugar syrup, but the results will have the distinctive honey flavour, and it needs to be watched more closely to ensure it doesn’t burn.  However, honey is less likely to crystallise badly when working with it. (LeBau, 2012, 21).

  • When working with sugar syrup, as I said, it can get a lot hotter than boiling water. And it’s sticky. SYRUP BURNS HURT. So be very careful when working with sugar syrup that you don’t splash yourself with it. The same goes for hot honey.
  • Because making candy from sugar syrup relies on evaporating the water from the sugar, it’s best to make candy on a cool, low-humidity day. Trying to make candy on a day of near 100% humidity, unless you are in an air-conditioned kitchen, is pretty darned impossible.
  • You don’t want to heat sugar syrup too rapidly; otherwise it can burn easily, or start to re-crystallise too quickly, and become grainy. Dissolve your sugar over a low heat, and once the sugar has completely dissolved, stop stirring. While the sugar syrup is cooking, regularly brush the sides of the pan with a soft, natural bristled brush. This will brush any syrup that has splashed onto the side of the pan back into the pan, and this will also stop crystallisation.
  • If you are used to Asian cooking you’ll assume sesame oil should only be used sparingly, as the type of sesame oil used in Asian cooking can be overpowering if used heavily. However, this type of sesame oil is produced from toasted sesame seeds, which heavily concentrates the sesame flavour and aroma. If you are familiar with modern Indian or Middle Eastern cooking, you might have come across virgin or cold-pressed sesame oil, which is much paler and more subtly flavoured. This is the sort you need to use for baking.

    If are going to be cooking for anyone with a sesame allergy, almond oil, rice bran oil or canola oil make good substitutes (the last two don’t have any flavour).

Hulwa a'Jamiyya

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
LeBau, Elizabeth (2012). The Sweet Book of Candy Making
Rodinson, Maxime (2006). Medieval Arab Cookery